Why I march by @Ciarabelles

march for choice 33 low res

As always, abortion remains a topical subject in Ireland. Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, it doesn’t really matter, what does is that the subject is always there. As I’m largely interested in women’s issues and current affairs as a whole, abortion is never far from my mind. It comes up in almost every debate I have with friends, and it’s always something I’m willing to speak freely about.

Why, you ask? Well, a few things about the whole topic bother me.

It bothers me that…

  • Abortion is illegal in Ireland;
  • 10-12 women per day have to travel from Ireland for safe and legal access to abortion; (UK Dept of Health, IFPA, Amnesty Ireland, 2015)
  • Abortion is a criminal offence in Ireland (unless there is significant risk to the life of the mother but even then there’s still limitations);
  • Irish women still seek, and have previously sought, extreme measures (such as ordering drugs or medication online which may be unsafe, or harming themselves in order to miscarry etc) because there is no access to abortion in Ireland;
  • Abortion isn’t legal in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest;
  • An outdated amendment to our Constitution still governs what I, and every other woman in Ireland, can and cannot do with my body;
  • Women do not have full bodily autonomy in Ireland;
  • Even in the case where a woman’s life is at risk, it may take months for a panel of people to rule that an abortion is warranted by which time it might be too late or a woman might just be forced to have a c-section anyway;
  • Women and unborn foetuses carry equal weight in the eyes of the law thanks to the 8th Amendment;
  • Internationally, Ireland is recognised for having a horrible reputation for its treatment of women as a direct result of the 8th Amendment which has resulted in deeply saddening situations (i.e. Savita Halappanavar, Ms. Y etc);
  • Politicians repeatedly ignore and skirt around the issue of abortion.

I could go on about this all day, but I won’t. We all know there are so many issues with Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws. For all of these reasons I will be Marching for Choice on September 24th.

I’ll also be marching because:

  • This is an issue that directly affects me and all of my female friends, family members and colleagues. It also affects my male friends too, believe it or not;
  • It is something I clearly feel very strongly about and my voice/opinions/views deserve to be heard, along with the thousands of other women who will be marching;
  • The 8th Amendment is outdated and archaic and directly violates a woman’s human rights;
  • Women should not have to travel for a simple medical procedure such as abortion;
  • Women should not have to be afraid of obtaining an abortion due to the fact that it is a criminal offence;
  • Women should be free from fear and have autonomy over their bodies and situations affecting it;
  • For those who can’t vote and don’t get a say (i.e. women under the age of 18, migrants and refugees);
  • For future generations so they potentially won’t have to struggle and fight tooth and nail for the things we’re struggling for today;
  • To let the government and political parties know that this issue isn’t going away, that this is an issue to be taken seriously and it will become an election issue sooner or later;
  • To simply ask/scream/shout/demand from the government that we as women deserve more.

The list is by no means exhaustive. I’m only speaking from my own view point. I’m sure many more women with personal experiences related to this issue will have much more to say that holds more weight than I. Or maybe they won’t, maybe they’re scared and ashamed and afraid to speak out because their friends, colleagues, family members or community/religious groups (and in some cases even politicians) have made them feel like their choice was wrong. That they should feel bad, guilty and evil for making a choice that was right for them.

I’ll be marching for the women who can’t march, who can’t come forward and speak their truth, or share their experiences. I’m sure there’s many women in Ireland who have been shamed for making their own personal choice to have an abortion and who are now too afraid to speak up. By marching for choice in a few days time I hope some of those women will feel safer in the knowledge that they did what was right for them, that they’re not alone and that there’s so many more women who have gone through the exact same thing as them.

This year’s March for Choice has the theme of ‘Rise and Repeal.’ By marching, I will be making a declaration to bystanders, politicians, pro-life groups, the general public, the country and even the world that I want to live in a country that gives me the right to choose what happens to my own body. An Ireland where women will not have to travel, seek desperate measures, or be afraid to come forward and speak from the heart on the issue of abortion. I want a country where choice is acknowledged and accepted, not ignored, ridiculed or shamed. A country where my human rights aren’t violated, where my medical decisions aren’t discriminated against or even considered illegal,  where women aren’t criminals for making a choice that’s best for them. I want to finally see an Ireland that is free of inequality and discrimination. After the Marriage Referendum there is surely a massive appetite for change in this country. I plan on showing my support for that change on September 24th, and I hope many more will too.

See more of what Ciara has to say on her blog